Travel is not a strange word to incoming Muscatine senior Joe Wieskamp. The 6’6” small forward has been on the road playing sports since he was in elementary school. Wieskamp is a member of the Iowa Barnstormers AAU basketball program, which plays in the Adidas Gauntlet series. This exposure earned the future Iowa Hawkeye a unique opportunity to play overseas. Wieskamp was invited to play in the Adidas Eurocamp in Venice, Italy, where the top players from the United States would face off in against the top players in Europe.
“It was a great experience because we got to learn a little bit about how they play the game in Europe. They do things a little bit differently over there. They do things like more jump passes and it’s a little bit more free of a style,” said Wieskamp. The competition was unique in that the European team was 22 and under, whereas Wieskamp’s league in the U.S. is 18 and under.
“A lot of the guys we were playing are 20 to 23 years old. Four of the guys we were playing against are projected to be second round draft picks in the NBA,” Wieskamp said. Wieskamp got to enjoy the sights of Venice briefly. “We got to take gondolas and water taxis, which was pretty cool. We had a little Italian food but so much of our trip was planned out, and we were there to play basketball.”
Immediately following the camp in Italy, Wieskamp and his AAU teammate Joey Houser, from Wisconsin, flew to Virginia to attend the National Basketball Players Association top 100 camp, taking place on the campus of the University of Virginia. This is an elite, invite-only camp that selects the top 100 high school basketball players, regardless of class, to work out and be instructed by former and current NBA players. The campers are divided into teams in which they compete to win the camp tournament championship.
“I was pretty fortunate to be put on a pretty good team. I had a great coach in [current Chicago Bulls Point Guard] Rajon Rondo. We went undefeated and won the championship,” said Wieskamp. This is the second year in a row that the wing forward was invited to the camp. Last year, Wieskamp couldn’t compete because he was recovering from mononucleosis. “It was good to finally get to play. It helped that I knew what the days were going to be like. I kind of knew what to expect as far as the schedule goes. But it was great to out there and compete against that level of competition.”
Rondo, as a point guard, encouraged their team to share the ball. “He really is a vocal leader, and he made sure that were sharing the ball and getting the best shot possible.” This philosophy was challenged on day one of the camp when a player on Wieskamp’s team wasn’t following the unselfish principles that Wieskamp believes in. Joe actually went to Rondo and had a discussion about changing the rotation in order to create a more effective lineup to fit not only his skill sets but also to make the team more effective. That adjustment worked out and Wieskamp was named to the camp All-Star team. “From going to a lot of these different camps you get a feel for what is the best way to compete. The hardest part is, you only play half the game, so you have to go hard while you are out there, since you don’t get as many minutes as you do in an AAU game.”
The travel doesn’t stop. Wieskamp is heading to California at the end of June, then travels to South Carolina, Kansas City, and Las Vegas in July, and then back to Houston for another camp. The constant travel makes Wieskamp happy to be home and sleep in his own bed. “It is definitely rough in the dorms, and a strange pillow, sometimes. It was great to sleep in my own bed.”
Wieskamp committed to the Iowa Hawkeyes in June 2015. He has catapulted up the recruiting rankings and is now ranked among the top small forwards in the class of 2018. Wieskamp is already the all-time scorer in MHS history and is on pace to be the all-time leading scorer in class 4A history in Iowa. Still, he doesn’t focus on individual goals. “Those records come with winning,” said Wieskamp. “It’s great to break a record, but it has to mean something by winning the games, too.”